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21 February 2014 @ 02:17 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Ten days ago, I complained to TAM Airlines about the Hell we were put through boarding their flight out of Santiago due to gate agents who seemed clueless about Brazilian visa rules.

This afternoon, TAM had this to say:

Thank you for contacting the customer relations department at TAM Airlines. We appreciate the opportunity to reply to your concerns.

We regretted learning of the misunderstanding that took place when you and your wife Mrs. Irene Vartanoff, were returning from Santiago to Charlotte via Sao Paulo on February 9th. We can certainly understand your disappointment.

Please allow us to explain that our agents are expected to contact the pertinent supervisor, manager or security office when in doubt, to ensure our passengers do not experience any problems at their connecting points or destinations. Furthermore, to ensure the company is adhering to international travel regulations.

Nonetheless, we have reported matters to the pertinent department head, so that our staff is reminded that U.S. citizens can transit without a Visa when connecting in Sao Paulo (Guarulhos) or Rio de Janeiro (Galeao) Brazil, and to certify that our representatives are reminded of the importance of providing precise and accurate information to our clients.

Once again, thank you for contacting the customer relations department at TAM Airlines. We trust we can count on your understanding and future presence onboard our fights.

Cordially,

I’m glad we finally received a response, but the comment about what agents are supposed to do “when in doubt” raises the question—

Doubt? What doubt? How poorly trained are TAM employees that there would be any doubt? How is it that all three gate agents (maybe there were four, I no longer remember for sure) were unaware Brazilian law is clear that “there is no need for a visa if the traveler arrives in Brazil on a flight, remains in the international transit area, without passing through immigration control, and departs on another flight from the same airport.” That whole paragraph makes TAM’s answer seem more like an excuse than an explanation, because there was never a reason for doubt.

We’re surely not the first people this has happened to … and based on TAM’s unsatisfying answer, I seriously doubt we will be the last.

And I, unlike TAM, have reason for my doubt.

 
 
scottedelman
20 February 2014 @ 11:27 am

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Something unexpected popped into my head while reading some recent eloquent commentary on SFWA’s current culture war. (To which I won’t be adding an essay of my own, because others have been expressing what’s in my heart and on my mind much better than I ever could, so I’ll just say that I’m all set to enlist in John and Mary‘s Insect Army and leave it at that.)

The memory that showed up to surprise me was of this artifact from one of the most divisive moments in science fiction history, this ad—two ads really—from the June 1968 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. (I’ve smirched the image from Marooned.)

SFWAVietNam

In the ad, opposing camps of SF writers either “believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country” or “oppose the participation of the United States in the War in Vietnam.” Yes, I was only 13 when these ads was published, a fan not yet a pro privy to the inner workings of the field, and no, this was not officially related to SFWA, but rather a project generated by Kate Wilhelm and Judith Merril that only coincidentally overlapped with the names of many SFWA members, but still, the contentiousness created by the public choosing of sides seems familiar.

And even though it was painful at the time for the participants to live through, you’ll forgive me if I say that from this distance, colored by time and perhaps my naiveté, these two lists of names and the statements to which they’re appended seem quaint and reserved, especially when compared to the incendiary language of Dave Truesdale’s recent petition (to which, interestingly, a few of the same writers have appended their names).

I don’t think any of us will look back with nostalgia 46 years from now at the current culture war the way I do now for 1968′s. But maybe, by then, if we work really, really hard, and we’re really, really lucky, we won’t still be fighting this one.

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I never expected to find a great restaurant in Valparaiso. In fact, I never expected, during my few days in Chile before and after visiting Easter Island, to even find time to leave Santiago and visit Valparaiso. But then Karla Lodis, one of the guides I hired to help me navigate the Chilean food scene, suggested a day trip, and she managed to make it sound so tempting I thought, Valparaiso it is!

ValparaisoStreetArt

We took off early in the morning, stopping along the way for a breakfast of pork sandwiches and hardboiled eggs at Lo Vásquez market. Once in Valparaiso, we wandered the city’s hills, which were filled with colorful street art (a sample of which you can see above), toured Pablo Neruda’s home, rode in one of the famous funiculars, cruised the harbor, and more.

We packed a lot into our one day there, and I hope I’ll be forgiven for feeling that the highlight was lunch at Espiritu Santo. It’s not a restaurant I came across during the culinary research I did for our trip, but Carlos Reyes, one of our food guides, listed it as one of the 10 best restaurants in Chile in his book on the country’s 100 best restaurants.

And now that I’ve had a chance to eat there, I can only say … I agree!Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman
19 February 2014 @ 10:24 am

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Looks like this is the year for ancient photos of me I didn’t even remember having been taken turning up.

First, Sam Maronie surprised me with a 1974 photo of me threatening the world’s greatest comic book inker Joe Sinnott with a broadsword (plus two other pics). Now David Lubkin coughs up a 1979 photo of me and Damon Knight at Noreascon Two, the 1980 World Science Fiction Convention.

DamonKnightScottEdelmanNoreasconTwo

Damon was one of the six instructors during my six weeks at the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop in 1979, the others being Robin Scott Wilson, Algis Budrys, Carol Emshwiller, Tom Disch, and (of course) Kate Wilhelm.

I have no memory of this moment. Lubkin had captioned the photo, “Damon Knight admiring Stacy Mandell’s puppetcraft while Scott Edelman shows off his coiffure. Noreascon Two, at which Damon and wife Kate Wilhelm were Guests of Honor.”

When I asked him about the pic, which he’d shared on Facebook, he wrote, “I was sharing the dealer’s table with Stacy and organizing a Clarion reunion party, for which Damon & Kate volunteered their GoH suite and kicked in $150. I’m not sure if you were with Damon or were independently checking in with me.”

I’m not sure either. And if any of you out there think I remember after all these years whether I was trailing Damon or checking in about a party, you have a higher opinion of my memory than is deserved!

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

When I booked the airfare for our recent vacation way back in September, I knew that we were going to play Easter Island dining by ear, but I intended to leave nothing to chance during our time in Santiago before and after. I made reservations at Boragó and Osaka the day a list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants was released, showing those restaurants as #8 and #48, and the only two restaurants from Chile to make the list. And I booked a dinner at Astrid y Gaston, because we’d had a wonderful meal at the Lima branch during our Machu Picchu trip, and I wanted to be able to compare.

I’d made no dinner plans for our first night in Santiago, though, because I assumed we might be destroyed by our overnight flights and want to do nothing more than snack on street food (if that) and crash. But then Raul Esteban Yañez Campos, a food critic I’d made contact with during the search for food guides I already told you about, recommended Picada Ana María as his favorite restaurant for traditional Chilean cuisine. So we decided we needed to push our way through whatever exhaustion we were going to feel—because, after all, when were we likely to get to Santiago again?—and had Raul make us a reservation.

ScottEdelmanAnaMaria

The food—what we got of it—was delicious, but we didn’t get to try all we would have liked, partially due to the restaurant being out of certain recommended dishes, but also thanks to our embarrassingly poor grasp of Spanish.

When I asked Raul what we absolutely must eat while there, the first thing he mentioned was something called Table of Warm Sea (which I assumed would include Ana Maria’s sea urchins which others have raved about), followed by the deer, wild hare, and quail. Sadly, the restaurant was out of those latter meats, and as for the Table of Warm Sea, no matter how many times I asked for it in English or Spanish, I couldn’t make myself understood by the server.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

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scottedelman
17 February 2014 @ 07:42 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I’d mentioned earlier that there are two sites you only get to visit once during your time on Easter Island, but didn’t get into the details. So here’s how it works.

Once you exit your plane at Mataveri International Airport, but before you get your luggage, there’s a booth where you can buy the ticket which allows entrance to all of Rapa Nui National Park. The ticket is good for five days, starting not at the moment of purchase, but from the time it’s stamped at one of those two sites with limited entries, either Ranu Raraku or Orongo. You can revisit any other site as many times as you want—and there are several Irene and I did return to—but those two, being the largest and most popular, are restricted.

RanuRarakuScottEdelman1

Ranu Raraku is the quarry from which almost all of the island’s moai were carved, and contains hundreds of them, some upright, some fallen or buried, some never completed or moved—such as “El Gigante” above, the largest moai ever, nearly 72 feet tall.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman
17 February 2014 @ 10:25 am

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Before I tell you more about Easter Island, I’d like you to meet my new Chilean friends Karla Lodis and Carlos Reyes. That’s us below squinting into the morning sun at Santiago’s La Vega market.

KarlaCarlosLaVega

I met Karla and Carlos due to my desire to eat at a hard-to-find restaurant on the outskirts of Santiago—Rancho Dona Maria in Chacobuco, about which more will be revealed later.

As you likely already know if you hang around here, I visit the foodie site Eater at least once each day. Coincidentally, two world-traveling bloggers there—John Sconzo and Bonjwing Lee—included Rancho Dona Maria’ pork ribs on their Top 10 lists for 2013 just a few weeks before Irene and I were due to head to Santiago on our way to Easter Island.

Well, you know that that meant. I had to get to Rancho Dona Maria!Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

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scottedelman
16 February 2014 @ 05:38 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I never noticed this while watching any of Mel Brooks’ movie or TV appearances, but apparently the man has pointy ears, just like Mr. Spock. And Brooks even got his at the same time as Leonard Nimoy!

If you believe what he had to say in a February 1975 Playboy interview, that is …

Playboy: Tell us about your ears.

Brooks: My ears are very much like Leonard Nimoy’s—you know, Mr. Spock on Star Trek, the guy whose ears come to a point. It happened like this: One night Leonard and I went out and before dinner we had 35 margaritas. We woke up in a kennel. There were four great Danes, two on each side of us. Their ears had already been clipped. And so had Leonard’s. I reached up, felt my ears and, alas, mine had, too.

Now you know.

Plenty of other fun—though highly suspect—anecdotes there. But you’d better bring your own Raisinets.

 
 
scottedelman
14 February 2014 @ 05:45 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been finding myself surprisingly uncertain how to write up our trip to Easter Island in a way that will properly convey its wonders. And so I’ve decided that rather than attempting to create a single, all-encompassing post that will do so, I’ll just share random memories over the next week from our time there, and hope that together they’ll give a good picture of what it’s like to visit place. So let’s start with our three visits to Ahu Tongariki.

FirstTongarikiVisit

Ahu Tongariki is the largest moai platform on Easter Island. Though its 15 moai are upright today, they were toppled during internal conflicts that began in the 18th century, and then further damage was done by a tsunami in 1960 that swept the artifacts inland. But it was restored during the ’90s, and it’s now one of the island’s most-visited sites, followed only by Ranu Raraku, the quarry from which all moai were carved and transported, and Orongo, a ceremonial village important to the Birdman cult, with views of the smaller islands Motu Nui and Motu Iti.

But visitors to Easter Island are only allowed to visit Ranu Raraku and Orongo once during a visit, while all other sites may be returned to again and again, which meant that when we were in the mood for more awe, it was Ahu Tongariki that pulled us back.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman
12 February 2014 @ 03:00 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

We’re back home from our trip to Easter Island and Santiago, and I’ve got a ton to tell you about the amazing sites we saw, the great food we ate, the wonderful people we met, and more. But rather than start at the beginning, I want to share with you the strange way our trip ended.

None of the four flights that took us home from Easter Island went the way it was supposed to, and though the first flight went awry in our favor, the others—hoo-boy!—did not.

We were scheduled to return to Santiago from Easter Island on Friday … but didn’t. Our flight was cancelled because the inbound plane intended to carry us back to mainland Chile had to turn back two hours in after a passenger reportedly had a heart attack. Which meant that we got another day in paradise thanks to LAN Airlines, which paid for our hotel room Friday night, transported us there and back, and gave us vouchers to cover our lunch and dinner.

Here’s the view we had into a caldera from the patio outside our hotel room.

HotelTupaView

We were thrilled. Stranded on Easter Island for another day? Bring it on!

Unfortunately, our luck did not hold when it later came time to leave Santiago …Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I head off for Santiago this afternoon on the way to Easter Island, and on the recommendation of Chilean food critic Raul Yañez Campos, I’ll be having dinner Thursday at Picada Ana Maria. I trust his taste, so without doing much research, I took him up on his offer to speak to the owners and get us a reservation.

But this, according to the Ulterior Epicure blog, is what we’re in for:

Ana Maria has become an institution of traditional Chilean cuisine, one that focuses heavily on fresh seafood and roasted game. I went twice, once with Guzman, and once with Foods From Chile.

They don’t do small at Ana Maria. When you order quail, three whole birds arrive in a brothy stew of vegetables. When you order wild boar, you get three, large, fists of meat in a sticky, ginger glaze (one of my favorite dishes here). Giant Patagonian pine nuts arrived in a bowl. Spliced lengthwise, each pine nut was at least an inch in length. The texture of cooked chestnuts, they were simply sautéed with some herbs.

And, when you ask for sea urchin, they bring you a whole plate of them: fat, creamy, sweet.

Locals disagree on how to eat their sea urchins on toast – whether to dress them, or eat them plain, with little more than salt and lime. At Ana Maria, the owner’s son, who ate with Guzman and me, prefers sea urchin on toast with a smear of butter, some salsa verde, lime, salt, and a spot of extra virgin olive oil. I tasted both versions, and I prefer them dressed the way the owner’s son likes them.

For dessert, we were served a smattering of Chilean fruits, including a cup of diced quince, which I especially loved for its tartness.

And here are some pics.

Sounds like I’d better do plenty of walking tomorrow in Santiago to earn that dinner …

 
 
scottedelman
24 January 2014 @ 08:33 am

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Today was supposed to have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Sadly, my father passed on January 27, 2009, three days after their 55th. My brother and I made a short film to celebrate their 25th anniversary back when I was 23 and he was 19, and I’ve been watching it and getting weepy.

And why keep that weepiness all to myself?

Back in 2010, when I had a YouTube limit of 10 minutes or less, I uploaded the first two-thirds of it. Now that I’ve been freed from that limit, I’ll upload the whole thing someday, but for now, here’s most of what my brother Lee and I screened for my parents and their friends at the surprise party we threw for them in 1979.

This was made way before digital editing tools came around, so my brother filmed and animated it all, using equipment he borrowed from Brooklyn College, and we then created the soundtrack by speaking into a cassette tape recorder while playing records in the background.

I know that my mother is thinking today about what should have been. So am I.

And now, so are you.

 
 
scottedelman
23 January 2014 @ 10:53 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

After a two-year absence, the always entertaining Dial B for Blog is back—and if you’re interested in comics at all, I suggest you visit the site often.

DIalBforBlogReturn

Robby Reed combines his encyclopedic knowledge with top-notch Photoshop skills to create fascinating and beautifully designed posts on topics such as the secret origin of Batman, the legacy of Jack Kirby, and an in-depth 10-part series on logo master Ira Schnapp.

Check out the archives, because there’s plenty more where those came from.

Sockamagee!

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scottedelman
22 January 2014 @ 03:30 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I was saddened to learn via a Facebook post from Tom Heintjes that cartoonist Bill Kresse had died. I met Bill when I was a sophomore attending Brooklyn’s South Shore High School. I was probably around 16 years old, and part of a group of students interested in journalism who toured the New York Daily News.

Here’s what Bill looked like around that time, from when I met up with him the following year at a 75th anniversary celebration of the comic strip held in Central Park.

CentralParkBillKresse

I no longer remember whether Bill ran the tour or was just one of the many people we met along the way, but for some reason, something clicked with him, me and fellow student Eric Shalit. That tour was the beginning of a relationship that led to Eric and me visiting Bill and his wife Lorraine at their home, my attendance at many National Cartoonist Society events, plus Bill providing art and advice when Eric and I put together an underground magazine at our school.

Bill, who was born on June 17, 1933, inked animation cels at Terrytoons immediately after high school, was a prolific “good girl” artist of the ’50s, and drew for the Archie’s Madhouse comic. I didn’t know any of that at the time, though. I only knew him as the artist and co-creator of Super Duper, a fun comic strip about a bumbling building superintendent which ran in the Daily News for five years.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve eaten at both of Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurants, Alinea and Next, so when the Chef tweeted about a crying baby that was making other diners mad, I definitely had an opinion.

And as I just learned from my daily perusal of the foodie site Eater, that opinion appeared, albeit edited, on this morning’s edition of Good Morning America. (My truncated tweet and my Twitter icon appear at the 1:26 mark.)

What appeared on the screen wasn’t my actual tweet, but rather (as you’ll see below) the final few words of my third tweet on the subject. Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Remember how I told you I’d only worn a costume to a convention once?

I’m going to have to amend that statement. Samuel Maronie, old pal and proprietor of the pop-culture blog Sam Maronie’s Entertainment Funhouse, mentioned over on Facebook that he had a photo of me in costume threatening legendary Marvel Comics inker Joe Sinnott with a broadsword—a moment in time of which I have no memory!

The strangest thing about not remembering this encounter? When he sent me a copy of the pic, I saw that I’d signed the thing in 1993! Which makes two things I no longer remember.

In any case, feast your eyes on this …

ScottEdelmanJoeSinnottCreation1974

I was 19 years old.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Ever since Family Meal unveiled its Smith Island Roll on Twitter and Facebook New Year’s Eve eve, I’ve been wanting to drop in and try it. I even considered stopping by as we headed to Range, another Bryan Voltaggio restaurant, to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but that seemed a bit much, even for me.

Last night, though, on the way back from a dinner with Jay Lake, Jay’s Dad, Lisa Costello, and Peggy Rae and John Sapienza at which the company was superb but the food was merely adequate, I thought—now’s my chance.

Why the sense of urgency around a Smith Island Roll, Voltaggio’s tweaking of the official dessert of the state of Maryland, the Smith Island Cake?

FamilyMealSmithIslandCake

During our second visit to Family Meal in August of 2012, just a month or so after the restaurant opened, I ordered a slice of Smith Island Cake, and it was a wonder. But then … it was gone, no longer on the menu during any of our subsequent visits to Family Meal.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

We’ve all heard stories of comic book burnings from the ’40s and ’50s. We know these stories were more than merely apocryphal—but how many burnings actually took place?

Nicholas Yanes is trying to answer that question.

As part of his dissertation on the history of Mad Magazine and EC Comics, he’s been reviewing primary sources in search of accounts of those public protests, and has been able to find 16 documented cases.

ComicBookBurnings

But there were more, weren’t there? Or … do we just think there were more?

He’s put out a call in hopes that the Internet group mind can locate any others that exist. So if you have any info, reach out to him on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Because my seven-issue run on Captain Marvel will soon be reprinted as part of a Marvel Masterworks edition, I pulled out the original art I’d received for having written those issues. I don’t recall the full details of what share of the finished art the penciller and inker received, but I ended up with two pages per book. And sometimes the backs of those pages are as interesting as the fronts.

On the flip side of page 10 from issue #49—the first issue I wrote—is a rough pencil sketch of the villain The Cheetah.

CaptainMarvelBackSketch

I assume the sketch is by Al Milgrom, the penciller for that issue. Here’s what the character looks like inked and in color, as seen from his introduction on the cover of Captain Marvel #48, which is the previous issue.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

 
 
scottedelman

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

As I told you earlier, I probably won’t get a chance to experience the new incarnation of Next due to a major life change … which means I’m counting on you to go and then let me know all about it.

Next released its latest video today, this one promoting “Chicago Steakhouse,” hoping to persuade us to check out its latest blink-or-you’ll miss-it menu. As you’ll see below, this time around it’s more about the mood than the food.

Next: Chicago Steak from next restaurant on Vimeo.

Sure wish I could be at that card table, though I don’t know that my bluffs would work on those guys.

Now where’d I put my double-breasted suit and that fedora?